Getting the Necessary Help | Substance abuse

Getting the Necessary Help


Getting the necessary help

If you or someone you care about has a substance abuse problem or you might feel that you can’t cope with the symptoms of substance abuse in your home or place of work, getting help is the first step.

How do you go about it?


Don’t ignore the problem, hoping things may change on its own, won’t help your situation. Do something about it, below are some options:

  • Talk to the person using drugs about your concerns, and offer your help and support. The earlier the problem can be detected, the sooner it can be treated;
  • Be prepared for behaviour that’s expressed as excuses and denial;
  • Don’t get so caught up in someone else’s drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support;
  • Stay safe, don’t put yourself in dangerous situations;
  • You may consider joining a support group;
  • Your help and support might be crucial in the process of your loved one getting better. Try not to give up, he or she may not get better without your help;
  • Don’t make excuses or try to hide the problem. It’s natural to want to help a loved one in need, but protecting them from the negative consequences of their choices may keep them from getting the help they need.


The first step to attending to the problem is assessment. Assessment will determine the type of treatment that is required. A trained healthcare professional or social worker will conduct an assessment of the substance user in order to plan a course of action.

You’ll be able to have an assessment done at a local office of the Department of Social Development, or any community-based organisation that provides substance abuse services.



Access to treatment isn’t dependent on where you live, that means that you can go to any facility outside of where you live or work to get help. Various types of interventions exist, depending on the assessments, for example:

  • Early intervention services: A person that is considered for early intervention services would’ve started experimenting with substances, but hasn’t  developed a dependency on the substance. Early intervention services are rendered within the community.
  • Community-based treatment: Community-based treatment is a service rendered to a person who is engaging in harmful drug and alcohol use and to the people who are adversely affected by his or her behaviour. This type of treatment involves attending regular sessions, the person can maintain his/her employment, have the support of their family and it’s less costly than inpatient treatment.
  • Inpatient treatment services: A social worker may recommend inpatient treatment to a substance user. The affected person would spend an extended period of time outside of the community away from loved ones in a residential facility. Inpatient treatment services may only be provided by a registered treatment facility.
  • Aftercare: After treatment, the substance user is provided with aftercare services to manage and maximise the benefits gained during inpatient or outpatient treatment. Aftercare is a vital step in the recovery process. To continue recovery from harmful use of substances, users are encouraged to attend aftercare sessions for as long as possible. There’s also the possibility of a recovering user experiencing a relapse. Treatment is available for people who relapse.


Support groups are clusters of people who get together on a regular basis to share the problems they face in trying to break free of a drug or alcohol habit. They also discourage each other from using dependence-causing substances. Such support groups / organisations may also include the family / friends / caregivers of the substance user, at any stage on the road to recovery.

Call our toll-free number 0800 220 250 to obtain more information about available organisations that render support group services.

The process:


The following points are important to note about registered facilities:

  • Inpatient Treatment facilities are exclusively registered by the Department of Social Development.
  • The registration certificate should be clearly displayed at the facility. If not, service users reserve the right to demand to see the registration certificate.
  • The registration certificate is only valid for five years from the date of issue. This date should be clearly visible on the registration certificate along with the maximum amount of service users that the facility is allowed to accommodate.

Service users should note that no single treatment option is better than the other. Services are prescribed for service users according to the individual’s treatment needs.

Unregistered treatment facilities: Unregistered treatment centres may not comply with the prescribed norms and standards, hence people accessing such services should be aware that they run the risk of being scammed and swindled out of money. In worst case scenarios they may have their rights violated, run the risk of injury, even death. Unregistered facilities may not have trained staff, expertise or resources to deal with crises and/or complications associated with addiction.

For more information on how to get help call 0800 220 250 or visit our local offices at the Department of Social Development.